March 12, 2022 COVID Update
With the end of New Jersey's COVID-19 State of Emergency and the concurrent lifting of mask mandates, Monmouth Council will end its remaining COVID-related precautions, as well.
We will continue to encourage virtual options for meetings, particularly Roundtables, to accommodate those with ongoing hesitations regarding in-person meetings.
In addition, the maxim to "Stay Home When Sick" remains of paramount importance. While there are no longer formal requirements for medical screening prior to events, Scouting families are urged to avoid attendance at Scouting activities when they are unwell (broadly defined).
Thanks to everyone for their patience over the past two years with our precautions and thanks for all your efforts at delivering the promise of Scouting during this time.
January 10, 2022 COVID Update
In light of the rising number of COVID cases that are being reported state-wide, we have decided to close the Council Service Center to protect and preserve the personal safety of each of our staff members and have them work remotely from home while maintaining normal business operations. We are confident that the staff will be able to accomplish their responsibilities under these circumstances in light of previous remote deployments. We are tentatively planning to re-open the Council Service Center Monday January 31, 2022 and will keep you fully informed as this situation progresses.
We all know these are challenging times and as in past times, the Monmouth Council will continue to do what is needed to preserve our mission and protect our team. In the meantime, be well and stay safe everyone!
January 6, 2022 COVID Update
With COVID-19 concerns ongoing, units are asked to reinforce a "Stay Home When Sick" message with their membership and to follow the lead of local schools when deciding whether to meet in person.
Monmouth Council continues to have Zoom licenses available for both virtual unit meetings and District/Council committee meetings. Please contact your District Executive or Committee Staff Adviser for more information.
December 1, 2021 COVID Update
The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and, as such, the Scouting community still needs to incorporate that concern into program planning. However, there are not currently any State-level requirements specific to our programs. The rules for youth camps in New Jersey for 2021 were limited to summer programs only. All rules related to COVID for youth camps, campgrounds, and cabins in New York were rescinded prior to last summer.
The BSA, for their part, has scaled back the detailed blanket guidelines they issued at the start of this pandemic. Insofar as conditions vary throughout the country, we have been directed to follow the guidance of our local health officials. You can find the current guidelines for the BSA on their COVID-19 page, but they are largely limited to what we as Monmouth Council also recommend.
Based on the guidance we have received locally from health officials, the Monmouth Council Health and Safety Committee has distilled our recommendations for units into two overarching strategies:
- 1. Stay home when sick AND
- 2. Follow all current rules for the state you’re in, your community, and your unit’s chartered partner.
The first one is the most significant. Although formal temperature checks and symptom screenings are no longer required for Scouting activities, the message remains the same. DO NOT come to any activity, meeting, or event if you are sick or unwell, broadly defined. This is absolutely the most important precaution.
The BSA has chosen not to require COVID vaccination for participation in Scouting activities at this time, although it is recommended. They have also directed that we not identify, segregate, or exclude participants based on vaccination status. We, as Monmouth Council, have asked Scouts and Scouters to indicate their COVID vaccination status on medical forms because it aids the health departments in contact tracing and quarantine activities if there is an exposure. The BSA and NJ recommend but do not require masks for unvaccinated individuals who will have extended (>15 minutes) indoor close contact with individuals outside their household.
Tent camping, of course, involves less exposure to others than does cabin camping. However, our health departments consider a troop to be a “cohort,” and cabin camping is permitted. It is important to note for cold weather camping that concerns about COVID-19 should not prompt us to take steps that expose our Scouts and Scouters to an unreasonable risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Regardless of the shelter, bunking head to foot is recommended.
Regular handwashing or use of hand sanitizer is also a key step in preventing the transmission of illness, COVID-19 or otherwise. We have re-emphasized this in our camp programs and suggest that you do the same with your units.
Chartered partners do have the prerogative to impose additional rules on units, if they wish. For example, schools and some churches have universal mask rules for their facilities.
Of course, all this guidance comes with the caveat that our situation is dynamic and we may need to implement new measures at any time. However, as yet, there have been no changes from NJ or NY based on concerns for a new variant. We’ve been in regular contact with our health officials throughout the pandemic and they have been generous in their positive feedback regarding our precautions.
If you have a specific question or concern regarding COVID-19 or other matter of health and safety, please reach out to your District Executive or the Council office.
Most Recent Updates
Update: Jan. 14, 2021
Use this checklist to assist in identifying potential COVID-19 cases before event participation. This may be shared with Scouting families to guide their choices to attend Scouting activities.
Units should review these questions with each youth and adult participants upon arrival at local events or meetings and before departure for out-of-town events. District and Council event staff should review these questions with event staff and individual participants who have not been screened by a unit before their arrival.
Update: Nov. 24, 2020
With the numbers of COVID-19 cases again increasing in New Jersey, we’d like to give some ongoing guidance to our units regarding activities in the near future. Ultimately, a unit’s decisions regarding meetings and outings must be based upon applicable laws, the explicit views of their chartered organization, and the BSA Guide to Safe Scouting.
NJ Executive Order 196 restricts indoor gatherings to 10 individuals and outdoor gatherings to 150. While this effectively prevents indoor troop and pack meetings, outdoor activities remain possible within these constraints, as do virtual meetings. Monmouth Council has outdoor space available to units through Quail Hill Scout Reservation, as well as Zoom licenses to support unit meetings online. Please reach out to the Council Office or your District Executive for assistance with these options.
As we’ve shared before, please refer to the BSA’s Restart Scouting Checklist for guidance on COVID-19 precautions in Scouting. That document is available at:
Of course, no one should attend a Scouting meeting or event if they are sick. The BSA developed the Pre-Event Medical Screening tool to ensure that both youth and adult participants are not sick when you meet or when you depart for an activity. That algorithm is available at:
If you do meet in person during this time, please continue to exercise good judgment and follow the direction of your local officials. As always, we advise that if your schools have closed for illness, your in-person unit meetings and activities should cease, as well. Please be mindful of the schools that your units draw from and err on the side of postponement if there is a question.
If you have concerns about a possible COVID-19 exposure in your unit, please reach out to your local health department or the COVID-19 hotline in your respective county. The Monmouth County Health Department COVID-19 Hotline is (732) 845-2070. The Middlesex County COVID-19 Call Center can be reached at (732) 745-3100.
The leadership of Monmouth Council remains committed to supporting safe programming for our units and their Scouts. Thanks for all your efforts towards ongoing Scouting for our youth and we wish you continued good health.
Update: Aug. 26, 2020
Advancing in Rank
The coronavirus pandemic has slowed many Scouts from advancing to Second Class or First Class because of the inability to complete the associated swimming requirements. Swimming remains a major health and safety concern and cannot be abandoned by Scouts BSA. With that in mind, the Swimming rank requirements for Second Class (5b) and First Class (6a) may be deferred until each Scout’s next rank, as necessary (through Life, but not Eagle).
Second Class requirement (5b) Demonstrate your ability to pass the BSA beginner test: Jump feet first into water over your head in depth, level off and swim 25 feet on the surface, stop, turn sharply, resume swimming, then return to your starting place.
First Class requirement (6a) Successfully complete the BSA swimmer test.
This temporary deferment will allow Scouts to advance in rank up to, and including Life Scout, but not beyond. All other rank requirements must still be earned to advance. When conditions warrant and upon direction from the National Council, these requirements will be reinstated with 30 days’ notice to our Scouting family via Workplace, Bryan on Scouting, Scouting Wire, social media, and any other means determined appropriate.
For clarity, the following swimming requirements can be completed on dry land and are not a hindrance to advancing:
Second Class requirement (5c) Demonstrate water rescue methods by reaching with your arm or leg, by reaching with a suitable object, and by throwing lines and objects.
First Class requirement (6e) With a helper and a practice victim, show a line rescue both as tender and as rescuer. (The practice victim should be approximately 30 feet from shore in deep water.)
Rank advancement requirements identified in the COVID-19 FAQ may continue to be completed by Scouts by using video conferencing through December 31st, 2020. We will reevaluate the COVID-19 policies before the end of the year. Please continue to monitor the COVID-19 FAQ found on Scouting.org for any updates.
Camping Merit Badge
The coronavirus situation has also resulted in Scouts being unable to complete the Eagle-required Camping merit badge, specifically requirement 9b.
Requirement (9b) On any of these (Scouting) camping experiences, you must do TWO of the following, only with proper preparation and under qualified supervision.
- Hike up a mountain, gaining at least 1,000 vertical feet.
- Backpack, snowshoe, or cross-country ski for at least 4 miles.
- Take a bike trip of at least 15 miles or at least four hours.
- Take a nonmotorized trip on the water of at least four hours or 5 miles.
- Plan and carry out an overnight snow camping experience.
- Rappel down a rappel route of 30 feet or more.
Although this requirement adds “Scout fun” to a camping experience, it will be temporarily suspended as a requirement for Scouts to earn this badge. All other Camping merit badge requirements must still be completed to earn this badge. Upon direction from the National Council, requirement 9b will be reinstated with 30 days’ notice to our Scouting family via Workplace, Bryan on Scouting, Scouting Wire, social media, and any other means determine appropriate.
Eagle Scout Extension Process
The Guide to Advancement (GTA) continues to serve and guide Scouts, adult leaders, and councils on the proper reasoning and procedures for extending the deadline for competing all work toward the rank of Eagle Scout beyond the age of eligibility. Currently, Scouts may apply to the National Council for extensions as outlined in the GTA (section 126.96.36.199).
To assist Scouts during the ongoing pandemic, local councils have been twice granted the authority to extend the timeframe, for up to three months each time (now totaling a possible 6-month extension) to complete all work only for the rank of Eagle. This was done to eliminate any potential delays in the normal process. The authority for councils to grant these extensions is currently scheduled to expire September 30, 2020.
Local councils will now be given authority by the National Council to grant an additional three-month extension, which will end December 31st, 2020. During this time, the National Council will evaluate permanently allowing councils the ability to approve Eagle/Summit/ Quartermaster extensions beyond the age of eligibility of up to six months. This would make it no longer necessary for local councils to forward those requests to the National Council.
If it is determined to permanently grant councils the six-month extension authority, and having our Scout’s best interest at heart, Scouts would still be able to appeal to the National Council should their local council not approve their extension request.
Update: Jun. 12, 2020
With Governor Murphy’s announcement:
I am happy to announce that our office will be open for business on Monday, June 15, 2020 at 9:00am
You will see many changes in our office to promote social distancing.
Some of the highlights include:
*Improving HVAC air flow through the entire 2nd floor
*Adding Ultraviolet air cleaners to HVAC System
*Adding a door buzzer system to limit outside access of guest coming into workspace unannounced
*Swapping manual toilet flushers and faucets to motion sensors
*Adding Motion Hand sanitizers in key employee areas on both the 1st and 2nd floors
*Adding Social Distancing signage throughout the building
*Reducing seating capacity in conference rooms and break area by 50%
Please review the Stage progression, below.
The State is currently in Stage 2 and so is the Monmouth Council.
The State has announced that Stage 2 will begin on June 15th:
· Units can meet, following the guidelines of the State, charter partner, and meeting location. When possible, outside meetings are recommended.
· Camps will be open for day-only visitors in groups up until 25 people.
· Stores will be open to no more than 5 customers at a time.
· Visitors will be limited to fewer than 5 people at a time with prescheduled appointments. “No walk ins”.
- Staff will be required to take their temperatures prior to coming to work an maintain a daily temperature log, those with temperatures above 100.5 must remain and work from home.
- Guests and Visitors will be required to arrange appointments via an online reservation system and have their temperature taken prior to admittance.
- All visitors will log in to the council’s guest book.
- All guests and staff must wear a face mask or cover in the common areas of the service center.
When the state announces Stage 3:
· Most unit activities will be allowed with significant safeguarding.
· Camps will be open for overnight camping, following safeguards.
· Stores and offices will be open to visitors, following guidelines established by the State.
All Stages require following state-recommended safeguards and guidelines including:
· Don’t feel well? Stay home.
· Anyone with a temp of 100.5+ should remain home until fever free for 48 hours.
· Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
· Store customers and office visitors are asked to wear masks.
· Keep 6-feet of distance between yourself and others.
· Visitors will not be permitted into office spaces. Visitors will be greeted in common spaces of Service Centers.
· Restrooms converted to single use. Follow posted instructions to wipe faucets and door handles with disinfectant wipes or paper towels during use.
We are as eager to get to the "new normal" as you are and appreciate your continued compliance with the safety guidelines established to keep our Scouting family healthy during this challenging time.
Yours in Scouting,
Monmouth Council Team
May 15, 2020
For most Scouts, summer camp is the highlight of the Scouting year. With that in mind, key volunteers across several Monmouth Council Operating committees, along with the summer camp and council leadership teams, have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort monitoring updates and projections by several government, Scouting, and camping organizations from the local to national levels. The goal was to seek a path forward to be able to conduct our summer programs at both Quail Hill and Forestburg Scout Reservations in a manner that will keep our Scouts and leaders safe, maintaining our council’s unwavering commitment to the well-being of our members.
Regrettably, we have come to the difficult decision to cancel all in-person summer camp operations for 2020. This decision was not arrived lightly, but it is aligned with and supports the council’s ongoing commitment to the safety of our Scouts and leaders above all else. Knowing how important an outdoor experience is to our youth, we will continue to monitor state and local guidance with the hope of being able to offer small-group gatherings later in the summer.
Work has now begun on creating virtual summer experiences for our Cubs and Scouts BSA to keep them connected to friends and fellow Scouts. Be sure to visit www.monmouthbsa.org/virtualscouting within the next two weeks, for some exciting programs and virtual experiences presented by some of your favorite Camp staff! You will likely have many questions about this decision. We stand-ready to answer questions, a full FAQ will be posted to https://www.monmouthbsa.org/covid19 . If you have questions in the mean-time - for program and/or summer camp refunds, please contact Margie Ramirez,email@example.com. For general questions about Monmouth Camping operations, feel free to contact our Scout Executive, Mike Mahon at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 851-8219.
While this is not how any of us expected the summer of 2020 to go, the volunteers and staff of the Monmouth Council remain committed to providing programs to help you and your Scouts make the most of these unprecedented times. We remain hopeful that we will be able to provide small-group programs later in the summer as government guidelines allows, and we eagerly look ahead to the incredible line up of fall programs that are planned! Until then, please stay healthy and safe and we hope to see you soon along the virtual trail.